Bellator Heavyweight Champion Ryan Bader used his wrestling to put on a dominant showing against Cheick Kongo, defeating him via unanimous decision on Friday night.
Bader’s win headlined Bellator 280, which took place from the Accor Arena in Paris, France.
All five rounds of Bader’s fight were the same for him. He used every frame to either get Kongo up against the fence or take him to the ground. The few times that the fight hit the ground, Bader was active with short punches toward Kongo.
Bader ended up taking all rounds on the scorecards, making it a decisive victory for him.
Bader has now defended his heavyweight title twice. His previous appearance came just earlier this year when he worked toward a decision victory against interim titleholder Valentin Moldavsky.
Friday’s main event was a rematch. Kongo first fought Bader in 2019, but that bout resulted in a no-contest due to an eye poke. Kongo’s previous win was a submission over Sergei Kharitonov from the main event of a 2021 Bellator card.
Romero Scores Late Stoppage Against Polizzi For First Bellator Win
Yoel Romero picked up his first Bellator victory in Friday’s co-main event, defeating short-notice opponent Alex Polizzi in a late stoppage.
Romero scored a finish victory with just one second left in the fight. He dropped Polizzi late in the fight with a left hook, then stung him again with a left cross as he was returning to his feet.
Romero scored two knockdowns earlier in the fight with punches. While the bout started with a slow opening round, big moments later on from Romero allowed him to have a dominant outing overall.
Polizzi took the fight on a week’s notice, stepping in to replace veteran Melvin Manhoef. He had a three-fight winning streak going before his loss on Friday.
It was announced after the fight that Manhoef and Romero have been re-booked for Bellator’s September 23rd card in Dublin, Ireland.
Romero snapped a four-fight losing streak with his performance Friday. Those losses included the end of his UFC run and his Bellator debut, which came against Phil Davis last year.
Gallon Stops Brander With Ground and Pound
Davy Gallon closed out his dominant performance against Benjamin Brander in the second round with hard ground and pound shots.
Gallon got Brander to the ground in the second round with a takedown from the clinch. He later moved into a crucifix position, where he unloaded with a series of shots that cut Brander open and eventually caused the referee to end the fight.
Gallon succeeded in the opening round as well, causing damage with striking both on the feet and on the ground.
Gallon has strung together a trio of wins in Bellator. His previous fight was in February when he stopped Charlie Leary with strikes.
Brander, a Bellator newcomer, was riding the momentum of a decision victory that he earned last year.
Larkin Keeps Winning Streak Alive With Finish Win
Lorenz Larkin kept his winning streak alive on Friday night, scoring a finish win late in the first round against Kyle Stewart.
Stewart was in trouble after an elbow to the head from Larkin dropped him. Larkin then picked Stewart apart on the ground, stringing together knees to the body and punches to the head until the referee stepped in.
Friday marked Larkin’s first finish victory since 2016. The experienced Bellator fighter is now on a strong six-fight winning streak, a run that he has slowly built since 2018.
Stewart, a former UFC fighter, was making his Bellator debut. He was coming off a win from just last month on an XMMA card.
Babene Wins In Front of Home Country
Veteran Gregory Babene picked up an explosive victory in his return to Bellator, stopping Mike Shipman in the first round with strikes.
Babene dropped Shipman in the first round with a combination of a right hook and a follow-up left hand. Shipman was seated down hard from this shot, causing the referee to step in and end the bout just moments after.
Babene is now on an impressive seven-fight winning streak that has all come via finish. This includes three appearances in Bellator from 2016 to 2017.
Shipman was appearing for the first time in over a year. He snapped a two-fight skid in his previous fight, defeating Pietro Penini in 2020.
The Rest of the Card
Piotr Niedzielski beat ranked featherweight Pedro Carvalho, going three rounds for a split decision victory.
Former UFC fighter Thibault Gouti won his Bellator debut on Friday night, prevailing in a brawl against Lewis Long with a unanimous decision.
Jordan Barton became the first person to hand Fabacary Diatta a loss, defeating him in a razor-thin split decision result.
Soren Bak had a close fight to keep his winning streak alive, defeating veteran Charlie Leary via unanimous decision.
A couple of knees and a kick to the body of Gavin Hughes earned Yves Landu a first-round finish win. Landu has now scored two first-round finish victories in Bellator.
Lucie Bertaud scored a win in her return to the Bellator cage, defeating Katarzyna Sadura via unanimous decision.
Youcef Ouabbas prevailed in a hectic back-and-forth one-round battle, finishing Matthieu Duclos late in the frame with punches.
Bourama Camara had an explosive victory in his Bellator debut, stopping Victor Verchere with a right cross in the first round.
Main Card (4:00PM EDT / 10:00PM CEST) (Showtime)
Bout 13: Ryan Bader def. Cheick Kongo via Decision, Unanimous (Bellator Heavyweight Championship)
Bout 12: Yoel Romero def. Alex Polizzi via TKO, Strikes (RD 3, 4:59)
Bout 11: Davy Gallon def. Benjamin Brander via TKO, Strikes (RD 2, 3:18)
Bout 10: Lorenz Larkin def. Kyle Stewart via TKO, Strikes (RD 1, 4:44)
Bout 9: Gregory Ben def. Mike Shipman via TKO, Strikes (RD 1, 2:11)
Preliminary Card (1:00PM EDT / 7:00PM CEST) (Youtube)
Bout 8: Piotr Niedzielski def. Pedro Carvalho via Decision, Split
Bout 7: Thibault Gouti def. Lewis Long via Decision, Unanimous
Bout 6: Jordan Barton def. Fabacary Diatta via Decision, Split
Bout 5: Soren Bak def. Charlie Leary via Decision, Unanimous
Bout 4: Yves Landu def. Gavin Hughes via TKO, Strikes (RD 1, 3:01)
Bout 3: Lucie Bertaud def. Katarzyna Sadura via Decision, Unanimous
Bout 2: Youcef Ouabbas def. Matthieu Duclos via TKO, Strikes (RD 1, 4:17)
Bout 1: Bourama Camara def. Victor Verchere via TKO, Strikes (RD 1, 3:06)